"The issue to date is that devices are vulnerable just by the fact that they exist and can connect to the Internet," says Jerry Irvine, member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Cybersecurity Leadership Council and CIO of Prescient Solutions.
One big problem with these devices, says Irvine
, is that they're not always built with security in mind, which is why they can be the backdoor into infiltrating a system that's otherwise guarded.
Think of e-readers, Irvine
"They're easily hackable because they have no antivirus system, no data loss applications.
Another example he
gives: smoke alarms.
There's no real security protection on them, not like you'd find with your typical laptop or smartphone.
If someone gets in through that smoke alarm, and you don't have a wall between where it connects to your computer, that bad guy can get right in.
"Remember, when Target
was hacked, they were hacked through their heating and air conditioning system," Irvine
[Related: Consumers think IoT security is a piece of cake; IT pros have another name for it]
However, there are some steps you can take.
The first is to keep devices updated.
"Operating systems on their firmware become vulnerable," Irvine
"Updates are made because someone outside of the company has notified the company that there is some kind of weakness."
Another no brainer, he
says: a strong password - one that's not also used for anything else, especially any banking programs.
As many blockades as your financial institutions put up against bad guys, nothing will stop them if someone yanks your username and password from the database of what you thought was a harmless thing that connects to the Internet.
If you're going to be connecting a lot of smart devices at home - TV, thermostat, baby monitor, garage door opener, these kinds of things - Irvine
suggests setting up a separate network from those devices, one that works on Wi-Fi your computer never touches.
recommends a virtual private network (VPN) so that, if one of your new connected things gets infected with a virus, it won't bleed over onto your important devices to grab passwords and sensitive information.